How developed is Singapore

Definition of terms:Global City

In this context, a global city is to be understood as a metropolis that functions as a control and monitoring center in the global economy. Global Cities ”function as highly concentrated control centers within the organization of the world economy; they are key locations for highly specialized financial and business services; they are production and innovation locations in booming industries and they function as hubs and marketplaces for the exchange of produced goods, services and knowledge. "(Kinder, 2017)

The role of Singapore as a global city in Southeast Asia

Singapore's remarkable transformation from a colonial state to a modern industrial state has become a model for many countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a major regional center for finance and other high quality services. The economic strength and the comparatively high level of prosperity of the city-state of Singapore are closely linked to its development into a global city. (see Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sebastian Kinder)

Regarding the market economy factors, it can be said that Singapore's economic development status has a high wage level. 13% of Singapore's production of goods and services is owned by the government or by government-affiliated companies called GLCs (Governmental-Linked Companies). The private sector is also seen as the backbone of the Singapore economy. The Singapore government promotes the welfare state and limits its social spending to measures aimed at building human capital, such as education, health and housing. Prudence and thrift during the good times and great flexibility in the event of a crisis have strengthened Singapore in the past. In terms of education, research and development, Singapore has become an important center in the region. For economic survival in the face of growing competition, restructuring in the direction of more knowledge-intensive activities and services is necessary (knowledge economy). (Bertelsmann Foundation, 2003)

Ranking of the global cities

Transformation process of Singapore - Singapore's urban development into a global city

Singapore's first decade of self-government enabled more effective implementation of urban regeneration and good infrastructure programs from the first master plan to Singapore's first concept plan to make Singapore a global city. The government recognized the importance of planning as a basis for development and ensured the coordination and optimization of scarce land resources. Singapore's first legal master plan in 1958 was seen as a very restrictive “control instrument”. Urban renewal began in 1966 with the districts N1 and S1 north and south of the central area for the urban restoration of creative space. These districts were prioritized because of the availability of "soft" areas, which should help improve living standards. (Remy, 2016)

The Singapore government plays an important role in early urban regeneration processes and was well positioned to reconcile the social, economic and environmental aspects of the redevelopment. In particular, the government's offer of alternative accommodation, ranging from public accommodation to street vendor centers, made it possible to take advantage of urban renewal for all (HDB). In the 1970s, urban renewal gained momentum due to the sale of sites for public housing. The URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) was founded to systematically redevelop the city, whereupon a Central Area Plan was developed in late 1970.

For Singapore, traffic development was the guideline for increasing economic growth. In addition to the construction of new buildings, a comprehensive renovation meant the introduction of an integrated transport approach in the central area in order to ensure a smooth flow of traffic, especially in the city center, in order to maintain the growing economic activity. The State and City Planning Project highlighted the need to integrate transport and urban renewal and recommended that the rationalization of the road network be coordinated with public transport and parking policy. An example of this is the Benjamin Sheares Bridge (1981). The URA then concentrated on developing the character of the city as a global city in order to promote its quality and identity of the urban environment. Emphasis was placed on preserving the built heritage in historical areas and improving the general urban environment, including high quality public spaces. Two of the main master plans concerned Urban waterfronts and the City and cultural district.

The planning focus was on the urban waterfront master plan and followed the rehabilitation of the Singapore River in 1987. The aim of the planning was to revitalize the area through optimal land use plans. The URA went across the Singapore River into two central areas: Marina Bay and the Kallang Basin. Together, the plans formed a comprehensive approach to optimizing Singapore's waterfront asset. By the 1990s, the Singapore River had become a bustling entertainment destination and the government built the riverside pedestrian promenades and a series of pedestrian bridges. In the Kallang Basin, the Tanjong Rhu area was transformed from a heavily polluted area into a prime residential area, while Marina Bay became the center of Singapore's global urban ambitions and the new symbolic heart of the city from the 2000s onwards.

The urban and cultural district, which housed the most important government buildings from the colonial era, has been redeveloped to strengthen culture and identity, including landmarks such as the Supreme Court and the City Hall. The district's strategic location and heritage required a full review to identify its distinctive historical qualities and improve relations with adjacent areas. New cultural institutions were introduced into the district, including several public museums in historic buildings such as the Singapore Art Museum and modern cultural icons such as the Esplanade Theaters. The plan reflected the shift in development priorities from the 1980s to intangibles that were less directly related to infrastructural or economic concerns.

In order to ensure the continued growth of a global city, the planning of Marina Bay was initiated. Marina Bay was used as a natural extension of the traditional Central Buisness District (Golden Shoe District). Although most developments in the district were not realized until the 2000s, planning for Marina Bay had already begun in the early 1970s. Land reclamation in Marina Bay began in 1971 with the construction of the Benjamin Sheares Bridge to create parks and green spaces for the city center. In 1977, following a study by the URA, the government announced additional land reclamation in Marina Bay. The expanded redevelopment plans provided an opportunity to seamlessly expand the financial district and provide capacity for future urban growth in support of the economy and aspired knowledge economy in Singapore. The diverse nature of Marina Bay took on another dimension in 1987 when then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew foresaw the potential for creating a future freshwater reservoir in the heart of the city. A freshwater reservoir in Marina Bay would not only improve Singapore's water security through a better water supply, but also serve as flood protection for the central parts of Singapore. Thanks to improvements in the membrane technology, this could finally be realized in the form of the Marina Barrage.

Future prospects: challenges of a global city

As hardly any other city in the world, Singapore as a city-state is faced with the unique dilemma of simultaneously facing globalization and having to defend the entire spectrum of national interests. Singapore must continue to maintain high levels of performance while the tensions between Singapore's identity as a cosmopolitan city and a city-state persist. On the one hand, Singapore has to develop further in order to be able to keep up economically with London and New York. On the other hand, it seeks to preserve Singapore's unique character as it is only half a century old as a nation. To resolve these tensions, the government must not only maintain a successful economic partnership with the private sector and further develop its strong knowledge economy, but also reinforce the strong social pact. With the continued acceptance of innovations such as intelligent technologies, the government will be better equipped to master future challenges as a global city.